Writing an Abstract for Literature Review
Before a researcher or an academic writer starts to become familiar with how to write an abstract for literature review, one should first be familiar with what exactly qualifies as a Literature Review.
While writing a research paper or dissertation, the literature review is the portion where you brief the guidance counselor – also referred to as a Project Coordinator – about the precise problem you are looking to study and explain in the research paper.
Not only does this enable the guidance counselor to determine that the pupil is on the right track, but also helps the writer lay down a robust foundation to support his or her claim with the help of cited references.
Learn how to write an abstract?
Basic Tips and Guidelines
It would be more helpful to explain this with a real example. A student is looking to study the notion that “Small & Medium Enterprises can benefit by switching over to Cloud Computing”. This is the claim and the study path to be explored. In the Literature Review, the writer can build his case by, first, writing on the history of Cloud Computing; how it started, where it comes from, pioneers, how it evolved etc.
Consequently, the writer will also define & explain Cloud Computing; its various service models, deployment models, components, real life applications of Cloud Computing, the advantages & disadvantages etc.
Now that you know what the Literature Review comprises, let’s come back to how to write an abstract for literature review. The flow is the same as your research paper; initiate with theintroduction and talk about the problem or situation being studied, follow it with a description of the research methods brought in to implementation during the data collection & analysis phases, the results derived from the data analysis and, finally, the conclusion reached at the end.
Sample of an Abstract for a Literature Review
Here is a sample of how to write an abstract for literature review in light of the previously mentioned scenario:
Cloud Computing is a technology that brings many advantages with it for businesses that adopt it. In times of this recession when companies are resorting to either shutting down or come up with ways to reduce their operating expenditures, Cloud Computing offers Small & Medium Enterprises numerous benefits and a lifeline to stay in business. To validate this proposition, 10 SMEs that switched over to a Cloud Computing IT infrastructure in the last 12 months or less were chosen from various industries. The firms’ executives and decision makers were interviewed in detail about their IT operations before and after the implementation of Cloud Computing. The findings attained from the respondents clearly indicated a sharp reduction in both operating & capital expenses. This was evident by the lessening in the physical space required for the hardware, diminution of the IT staff headcount to monitor the systems, annulment of expenses incurred on software licensing and also for data recovery & systems security. The study clearly indicates that Cloud Computing is of immense importance to SMEs that wish to reduce their running costs yet continue expanding their operations.
I. Types of Abstracts
To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.
A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgement or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.
A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less.
The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.
A highlight abstract is specifcally written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretence is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.
II. Writing Style
Use the active voice when possible, but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on research that has been completed.
Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract, by definition, should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. To begin composing your abstract, take whole sentences or key phrases from each section and put them in a sequence that summarizes the paper. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make it cohensive and clear. Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what your have written in the paper.
The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
- Lengthy background information,
- References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
- Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
- Abbreviations, jargon, or terms that may be confusing to the reader, and
- Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.
Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in hte Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century. Oxford, UK: 2010